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Old Oct 25 2011, 07:40 AM   #3
D. M. Domini
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Chicagoland
Gender: F
Fan of: Afra Lyon, and Robinton!
Now Reading: Sabriel by Garth Nix
Default Re: The Writer's Toolbox

This topic might need moving to the writing forum. But I'll answer! (Of course!)

What aspects of a writer's skill set are most important to you as a reader?

As a reader? Compelling characters in a compelling world with a plot that doesn't require someone's stupidity to work (either the characters' or the readers').

What do you think Anne does best? Worst?

Strengths:

AMC is awesome at "the idea". There are writers that would kill to have just one of her worlds, but she has Pern, Crystal Singers, Brainships, AND Talents to play with, each based on its own unique and interesting idea. She also has a very distinct and enjoyable "voice" that other writers can't duplicate. I believe with the latter, her voice/stage training has a large influence. Her prose has that witty, melodic classical influence that most writers do not have, and she relies on stage tricks to paint characters quickly and vividly in the mind's eye that I think work because they're not seen in literature all that often.

Weaknesses:

She seems to get fatigued on details easily. Her long-running series have many inconsistencies. She almost never really gets into a character's head...I think Afra's the closest she gets to a really psychological main character that holds beliefs that might not entirely gel with her own, and he mainly "errs" on the side of being overly restrained and formal. The stage flourishes she uses to intro characters don't hold up when you examine a character more closely, villain or hero. She has difficulties harming her lovlies once the initial story on a world is done, which makes for books that get more and more boring as a series goes on.

What style of novel do you prefer - plot or character driven?

If I had a choice between a book that was entirely plot, or entirely character, I'd choose character. That said, I would respect a book that did both well more than I'd respect a book that only did one or the other well.

How important are realistic characters to you? Can they throw off your enjoyment of a story if the author writes one too out of date with modern sensibilities?

I make allowances for the decade a book was written in, if I'm going back to re-read. If we're referencing AMC's female characters in this instance, for example, she really was a breath of fresh air in the era her books came out. You could even say her books helped make the modern era. I won't shake a finger at a book that was progressive for its time, but which doesn't magically stay progressive for ever-and-ever-until-the-end-of-time when compared to "modern" sensibilities. Context is important.

However, it's stupid to stop learning, and if newer books still hold those ideas...well. That's the sign the author is no longer changing with the world. I'm less forgiving about that.

What about plot? How well do you think Anne's plots have stood the test of time?

I don't think plot was ever her forte. It always seemed to me she A) used a common trope to drive the story, such as romance, or coming of age, and in combination with her other talents things just worked, or B) drove around taking random turns that, after some editing, could make "the story" unpredictable enough that it covered a lack of plot.

But then again, I haven't done full-rereads recently, so my memory of plot may be blurry since I'm not a huge plot person myself.

How do you think Todd compares to Anne as a writer? Is the overlap in their skills (or lack of overlap) seamless or not? Does it make a difference to your enjoyment of their respective books?

I can't speak in depth on Todd's writing, since I've not read his writing in depth. But I get the sense from the comments here that he inherited his mother's weaknesses in writing without bringing his own (or at least his approximation of her) strengths to the table.

Looking through the openings of both types of Pern books--those by her, and those by him--AMC uses her vocabulary to set mood far more effectively than Todd does in any of his openings. His vocabulary is boring.

::shrug::
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Read my Pern and Talent fanfic on Archive of our Own.

Fanfic WIPs: The Day Benden Went to War (Pern/Talent); Slosh (Pern); Weyrbred Lads (Pern); When You Fall Asleep /Between/... (Pern)

Completed Fics: Flight (Pern), Flight v2 (Pern), Golden Glow (Pern)

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